Steph jumped to number one, but what does that mean in the grand scheme? All photos: WSL
The World Title Races Are Startlingly Close After Keramas
And both the men's and women's top-10s are represented by at least five surfing "nations".
Both Stephanie Gilmore and Kanoa Igarashi were shocked to discover that their recent wins at Keramas had catapulted them to numbers one and two of their respective CT rankings.
"No way, don't even tell me that," was Kanoa's incredulous response.
Steph, who's already got seven World Titles to her name, was even more animated.
"Oh my god," she said. "That's so exciting! I didn't know it was possible; I hadn't done the math. I painted my nails yellow though—my intentions were clear."
Heading into Keramas, John John Florence had a firm grasp of the World Title race, with guys like Italo, Jordy, Filipe, and Medina a few thousand points back. Then came two shocking days of upsets, wherein every one of those guys (minus Filipe) crashed out of the event in a spectacular fashion. Filipe would eventually lose to Slater in the quarters, which not only put a wrench in his plan to steal the Yellow Jersey before Margaret's, but also allowed Mr. 11 to scrape his way into the top-10.
Kolohe Andino, who sat at number six coming into Keramas, also lost in the quarters.
All of which left the door open for Kanoa Igarashi, who, coming into Bali, sat at number 10 on the rankings with two ninth-place results. With his win yesterday, Kanoa has sandwiched himself between Florence (still first) and Ferreira (third), thus setting the stage for a remarkably close and uniquely international top-10 (technically 11) picture.
Let's take a look:
I count seven different flags in that picture—granted one of them is Hawaii (not a real nation) and Australia only got in by the hairs of Wade's chinny-chin-chin—which shows remarkable growth for the sport of professional surfing.
Also, the top four surfers are less than 2,000 points apart (meaning that if any of them won the final at Margaret's, they'd gain the ratings' lead regardless of how their competitors fared) and the tenth-ranked surfers (plural) are still well and truly in the race (one strong event could see them to the ratings' lead, too).
It's worth mentioning again that Kelly Slater, at 47-years-old, has put himself right in there with the world's best. After Slater's performance at Snapper, many people wondered if he'd have the courage to finish out the year, or if he'd use an abstract injury to excuse himself from an embarrassing last lap. Then, by a few parts skill and many parts inexplicable wizardry, Kelly logged himself a fifth and a third at back-to-back events, thus landing him in the number nine spot.
The man can't not entertain.
On the women's side of the draw, we saw a similar thing happen.
World Number one Caroline Marks took an early dive at Keramas, as did her nearest suitor Malia Manuel, with number three Courtney Conlogue falling in the quarters.
This left the door open for three marquee surfers—Carissa Moore, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Steph Gilmore—all of whom could have taken (or tied, in Sally's case) the ratings' lead with a win in Bali.
Carissa lost in the semis to an impassioned rookie, leaving Sally and Steph to fight for the golden singlet. By now we've all seen Steph's 10, meaning we know exactly which way that final went. Interestingly for Sal, that final loss sent her all the way down to fifth on the rankings, rather than first if she had won. That's a testament to just how tight the women's tour is at the moment (surfers 1-equal-fifth are less than 3,000 points apart).
Like with their male peers, the women's top-10 hosts a dazzle of nationalities, from Australian to American to colonized-American to French and Brazilian.
Here, take a look:
We're only three stops into an 11-event tour (10 for the women), so what does all of this actually mean?
Well, over the last five years, ratings' leaders after the third event have gone on to win the World Title 60% of the time. So, if we're to place any value in historical data, it's more likely than not that Steph and John will be the 2019 World Champions.
We'll see how that theory holds up in December.